It seems obvious that for the vast majority there is quite simply an inevitability that you will one day become a parent and indeed a social expectation that will be so right from the very beginning – all those references made to children about their futures as a mother or a father, all those dolls, push chairs and other baby related toys – even those young adults who buck the trend and do not consider themselves all that child focussed may soon find themselves in a relationship where parenting is the next logical step or around their peers who are establishing families which opens up the possibility of the same for them. I am sure we all know people who categorically stated that they would never have children who somehow found themselves swept along with this inevitability and are now proud, loving and totally committed parents. When on that path and the unthinkable happens and a natural pregnancy is not possible and medical intervention fails too, adoption becomes an obvious consideration and hopefully a solution.
However, for gay people all of this could not be further from reality. In the not so distant past acknowledging to ourselves that we are gay was also acknowledging a childless future, particularly for gay men. Lesbians of course had options gay men didn’t and a relatively small number managed to establish families pretty naturally (with the help of a friend and a turkey baster for instance) however if gay men where involved they were usually in the back ground and even if part of a child’s life were outside the nuclear family.
We do a great job of getting on with our child free existence and indeed for many our fun filled, self centered existence apparently has much to be envious of – however not being a parent can often be a huge disappointment that no amount of time and effort dedicated to children of friends and family or substitute children – pets – can truly fill.
As a result my partner and I came to parenthood/adoption by quite a long and convoluted process: growing up thinking that of course we would be fathers, realising we were gay and assuming parenting would never be an option, falling in love and recognising how we both yearned to parent, trying for a birth child with a close friend and failing, discovering later – in our early and late 40’s – that gay people were now able to adopt, feeling it came too late and that we were too old, being full of doubt that we could do it at all, struggling to let go of our great child-free life, but then being inspired by friends who had already taken the step.
The first visit from this new family literally changed our lives. We of course knew they were going through the process and we were aware that they had been approved and later that the children had been placed, we also knew of their need to stay away from extended family and friends until the dust had settled and the family had bonded and the children attached.
We were thrilled for the new Dads and so excited to finally be meeting their sons for the first time, brothers who we had heard so much about who at the age of 2 and 6 being a sibling group and one of them a short way off being considered ‘older’ for adoption could have been close to spending the rest of their lives in care or could have been seperated to give them a better chance of placement. Seeing them in this new family with so much love and with hope for a great future ahead of them had a huge impact on us.
It was a wonderful weekend. They are lovely little boys – beautiful, funny, warm and affectionate. They are great dads – firm, fair and totally loving. They are a great family and a total inspiration.
We realised that up until this point our thoughts on adoption had been all about us satisfying our desire/need to parent, suddenly that all changed and we were now discussing being able to do what our friends had done and give children a loving home and a far greater chance of a happy, productive and positive future. Of course its not selfless, we get to satisfy ourselves at the same time – the desire to parent was as strong as ever, but the new perspective put the negatives we had been focusing on and the fears we were concerned about into perspective. The difficulties we knew we would be facing and the ‘sacrifices’ we thought we would be making would be minimal compared to what we could bring to children in need of parents, in need of a home, in need of a future.
We immediately started the process, it was over five years ago and being before the recent changes in the system it was a slow and laborious experience that took almost three years from the initial enquiry to placement. At the time that seemed quite painful, but on reflection we can see that it really gave us time to consider and to reconsider (over and over) just what we were doing and what we would be taking on. It was a bit of a roller-coaster ride and the ups were of course great and exciting, but these were offset by many negatives that we had to work through and the slow process allowed us to do exactly that and most importantly without the pressure that rushing through the process may have added.
The length of time it took also brought us to two wonderful and very special little boys who are our sons, had the process been any quicker it could have resulted in us not being in the right place at the right time for what we see as a perfect match and that now feels unthinkable. Of course I realise that had we been matched earlier with other children they would no doubt now feel like the perfect match, but that is immaterial as we are a family that was ‘meant to be’ and NOTHING else is even remotely relevant.
Things are not perfect – of course not – and we know that we still have much to learn, as parents and indeed as a family. However, we never question the decision we made on any level and realise that all the steps that led us to where we are now add something to us being the parents and the family that we are.
People come to adoption from many, many angles, but amazingly we all end up at the same point – as parents of a child or children that we love with all our hearts and that we could never imagine life without.
Does it matter how we got here? On the journey I guess it feels like it does matter – especially if it’s a difficult one, but once we reach the destination then I think maybe it doesn’t matter at all.
We are all where we are and surely that is exactly where we are meant to be.